The REC have said that a managed Brexit with a transition strategy is urgently needed to protect the rights of EU citizens currently living and working here and to avoid a potential disaster for businesses after Brexit.
New indicative figures from the ONS show that for the year ending March 2019, net EU migration has continued to fall to +59,000, while overall immigration for the purpose of work has fallen to 214,000, the lowest levels since 2013. With key sectors like IT, engineering, and healthcare facing acute skills shortages, according to REC’s Report on Jobs, today’s figures raise the question of how businesses and public services will cope after Brexit.
With just 10 weeks before the Brexit deadline Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, announced that freedom of movement would end on 1 November in the event of no-deal. This has added to growing uncertainty and unease among businesses and EU employees about the potential impact of no-deal on jobs and society.
“The government must stop posturing and urgently develop a transition plan that ensures EU citizens currently working here feel welcomed and can continue to do so from day one after Brexit,” says Tom Hadley, director of policy and campaigns at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC). “It is hard to believe that government continues to leave businesses and EU citizens in the dark, with such little clarity on the biggest questions with just 10 weeks to go.
“Brexit uncertainty, the lack of clarity on what no deal means for EU citizens working here, coupled with a weak pound is making the UK less attractive to EU workers,” says Hadley. “This is hugely concerning given that REC’s jobs data show that UK employers are already struggling to find candidates to fill essential vacancies.”
Hadley concludes: “For the UK to have a thriving economy and society, homes need to be built, we need doctors and nurses to run the NHS, and people must be able to access goods and services. This can only be achieved through an evidence-based immigration strategy. The government must act urgently to reassure businesses, EU citizen, and regain confidence in the economy.”